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A Poetic Labor Day

By Harriet Staff

Also over Labor Day weekend was Poetic Labor Project‘s second-annual gathering on labor, art, and politics, this year called “WORKING *** WRITING *** FIGHTING ***.” Photo above captures many folks from last year’s two-day Labor Day Event (you can also read the pieces presented here). The 2011 participants included Brian Ang, Jasper Bernes, Lindsey Boldt, Chris Chen, Chris Daniels, Jack Frost, Owen Hill, Tim Kreiner, Melissa Mack, Sean Manzano, Michael Nicoloff, Steve Orth, Margaret Rhee, Jill Richards, Wendy Trevino, Dana Ward, Brian Whitener, and Laura Woltag. Feliz Molina at the Huffington Post writes:

The Poetry Labor Project is unlike any other event and blog on writing and working. It’s a democratic space that invites critical dialogue concerning what it means to be a poet and laborer. With rampant joblessness, this event comes at the most appropriate time. Such questions and statements posed to poets are How do you navigate your employment life and your poetic life energetically? How does your employment life relate to poetic form in your own work, or in poetic work generally? How do class relations play out in the poetic sphere or how do they appear in or affect your poetic work? Contemporary working and living conditions and their effect on writers versus other times and other locations. The stance of the institutionally unaffiliated artist or intellectual in relation to the academy. Additionally, we are interested in specifics of everyone’s job or trade that might be invisible to many.

The personal testimonies in the Poetry Labor Project are super inspiring to read. It got me thinking about my own poetic means of survival while trying to keep up with whatever hyper shifting definition of what it means to be poet. Poets who’ve contributed to the dialogue are minimum wage workers, some in the corporate world, others are professors, and the list goes on. One poet even had to wear a “kidney belt” to keep his organs in place while operating a bulldozer.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.